I recently had the opportunity to make a return visit to Earthshine Lodge, where we facilitated a Family Superpowers event earlier this year. Located in beautiful Lake Toxaway, NC and only a short drive from Brevard and Asheville, NC, Earthshine Lodge is the area’s premier mountain lodge destination for Adventure, Retreats, Outdoor Education and Special Occasions. During the month of December they have been hosting a weekend program called “Appalachian Christmas”, which is sure to become an annual tradition for my family and I am sure many others. 

Some of the highlights of the family friendly program include cookie decorating, candlestick making, blacksmithing, local artists and craft vendors in the Appalachian Village, along with hearty meals served in the lodge’s great room, with spectacular mountain views. Don’t forget the bonfire and s’mores and most importantly, the much anticipated brunch with Santa, which is by itself well worth the visit! 

But one of the activities I found most spectacular and unique was the llama hike… yes, hiking with llamas! If you’ve never been on a hike with a llama, it’s something I highly recommend. They are impressive animals, with great strength and character. 

I was handed a lead and introduced to my llama, “P-Diddy Peaches” and within moments we were off and hiking side-by-side with a crew of about eight other llamas and fellow adventurers. Each llama has a unique and memorable name that is fitting to their personality. 

The journey around Earthshine Lodge’s property wasn’t only an opportunity for some fresh air and a good hike, but it was also interestingly therapeutic. We all quickly came to understand that these llamas were special and had provided hours of therapy for different groups of people and raised thousands of dollars for a number of charitable causes. It was also clear that their owner and our guide on the hike, was passionate about his animals and their unique ability to deliver a memorable and special experience for all different kinds of groups. 

There is a growing body of research that supports spending time in the outdoors and how it leads to higher levels of creativity and helps to lower stress levels. A recent study based on interviews with 20,000 people found that…

“A two-hour dose of nature a week significantly boosts health and wellbeing, even if you simply sit and enjoy the peace.”

What was even more interesting is that the scientists who conducted this study found that the benefits held universal across all the groups they monitored:

“The benefits of a two-hour dose were the same for both young and old, wealthy and poor, and urban and rural people.”

We’ve also shared this article before about a doctor who meets with his patients outside for a walk, instead of in his office! He is now spreading this approach throughout the country with a program other doctors can implement. 

“To say exercise is the best medicine is a massive understatement. It is 100 to 1,000 times better than the best medicine.”

So, coming back to our llama hike, you might be interested to learn… what’s the difference between Alpacas and Llamas? How much of a load can llamas carry on their backs? Why do llamas form a circle when they stop hiking for a bathroom break? Well… you’ll just have to go on a guided llama hike at Earthshine Lodge to learn the answers to these questions and others! 

At Insight Solutions, we build nature into our events in a number of different ways for a variety of reasons. There are significant health and wellbeing benefits, opportunities to boost creativity and come up with new ideas and the ability to simply slow down, relax and enjoy the fresh air. We hope you’ll find some time for yourself to disconnect and enjoy nature as you transition into the new year. 

And if you’re looking for a spectacular mountain getaway, we know just the place!  

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